Is my sons tortoise dead?! What are the chances? Please help!

LadyCucumber

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Hi everyone.
My son has a herman tortoise, he’s had it for one year and I think it was 10 months old when he came to our home. He’s bathed it daily, foraged and given it fresh food daily (plus pellets), it’s a healthy tortoise but today he’s found it today after we came home and we think it might be dead?!

His head is floppy, but he definitely moved his tail (tucked it in) when I put it in some warm water. He isn’t stiff like I’d imagine a dead tortoise would be (although I’m not sure?). His legs are kind of flexible but he isn’t really moving. He’s very unresponsive.

I took him to the vet who said they’d call back when they put a Doppler in his shell to see if he’s alive, however they’ve just called and told us he’s too small to do that and all they can do is give him sugar water and see if he moves. We’ve opted to take him home to keep an eye on him as they leave over night.

But, what?! Is there anything else I can do? They don’t seem bothered and all vets are closed now! My son is really upset and I feel like I’m not doing enough but I don’t know what else I can do.

Is there a chance he’s alive?! Is there anything we can do and what could have possibly happened here? When my son found him he was kind of drooling on a rock and the drool was still wet…

ANY help or advice would be much much appreciated!!
 

wellington

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So sorry. There is a slight chance he is still alive.
Soak him in warm water for about an hour and add piediyte and baby food pured carrots to the water. Keep water warm 90 and tortoise warm in his enclosure, around 85 day and night.
 

wellington

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Are there any signs of what happened? Any blood?
Any damage?
Anything he could have eaten that's not good for him?
Do you let him roam the floors of your house?
 

LadyCucumber

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So sorry. There is a slight chance he is still alive.
Soak him in warm water for about an hour and add piediyte and baby food pured carrots to the water. Keep water warm 90 and tortoise warm in his enclosure, around 85 day and night.
Hi thank you for your response! We’ve just picked him up from the vet and his neck has definitely retracted back a bit compared to earlier! That’s good I think?!
My son is about to give him a warm bath, we bought carrots after seeing this but we don’t have any pieditye here. The vet gave him sugar water. Would you recommend anything else in the water? Thank you again
 

LadyCucumber

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Are there any signs of what happened? Any blood?
Any damage?
Anything he could have eaten that's not good for him?
Do you let him roam the floors of your house?
We really aren’t sure! He was just kind of slumped on a rock, he had drool coming out of his mouth but otherwise he looks fine. No blood, no damage. The vet didn’t have a clue either. We don’t let him roam around floors, he has 3 different enclosures and they’re all kept clean. My son feeds him pellets and then random bits of things, most of which he grows himself. His favourite food at the moment is clovers abd dandelion leaves… and he isn’t very adventurous! It’s baffling really!
 

KarenSoCal

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Is there any possibility that a toxic weed got mixed into his greens from the garden? Or could someone nearby have sprayed a chemical that blew into the garden? Like weed or bug killer? Or lawn chemicals?

And congratulations to your son for growing his food. Good job!
 

Lyn W

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So sorry to hear this but don't give up yet. One of our members had a sick tort and thought she had died so was getting ready to bury her but he noticed something very slight and decided to wait and soak and keep the tort warm, and eventually she revived from a coma like state and recovered. She may have had completely different issues so I don't want to give false hope but there is still a chance for your baby.

I think Dioralyte is the UK equivalent of Pedialyte for humans - but the vet may be able to recommended a rehydration treatment for torts.
I really hope he makes a speedy and full recovery.

This is the caresheet that will tell you what he needs to help you work out what happened and in case anything needs changing
 

LadyCucumber

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Is there any possibility that a toxic weed got mixed into his greens from the garden? Or could someone nearby have sprayed a chemical that blew into the garden? Like weed or bug killer? Or lawn chemicals?

And congratulations to your son for growing his food. Good job!
I don’t think so, but I can’t be 100% sure! He said he fed him dandelion leaves last and that he ate all of them (apparently he doesn’t usually eat it all but did this time and when he does he mentions it and laughs that he’s in a greedy mood) and the planters he grows in are kind of close to next door. But I’ve never seen them spraying any chemicals and they have a lot of flowers. But I can’t be certain! We don’t use anything and our lawn food is just liquid kelp… but even that we haven’t used for over a month! Very confusing!!
 

LadyCucumber

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Sounds like he may have overheated. How long were you gone and was he and his rock under the light?
The rock is close to the light but not under it. How would he recover from this? We’ve put him in a cardboard box, with some hemp bedding stuff and drawn a circle around where he is to see if he moves (as per vet recommendation). Is there anything else I could do? Thank you for your input
 

LadyCucumber

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So sorry to hear this but don't give up yet. One of our members had a sick tort and thought she had died so was getting ready to bury her but he noticed something very slight and decided to wait and soak and keep the tort warm, and eventually she revived from a coma like state and recovered. She may have had completely different issues so I don't want to give false hope but there is still a chance for your baby.

I think Dioralyte is the UK equivalent of Pedialyte for humans - but the vet may be able to recommended a rehydration treatment for torts.
I really hope he makes a speedy and full recovery.

This is the caresheet that will tell you what he needs to help you work out what happened and in case anything needs changing
Thank you so much for this. I am hoping so much it’s okay. We have dioralyte but it’s a blackcurrant flavour! Lol I don’t think he could have that? Is there a solution I could make myself? I will go to 24/7 Tesco/Asda if there’s anything I could get? I’ll have a read of your link now

We are seeing the vet again at 9am tomorrow morning and I’ll ask about rehydration treatment. I’m a bit upset they didn’t do much but at the same time I haven’t got a clue what they could have done
 

Lyn W

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Thank you so much for this. I am hoping so much it’s okay. We have dioralyte but it’s a blackcurrant flavour! Lol I don’t think he could have that? Is there a solution I could make myself? I will go to 24/7 Tesco/Asda if there’s anything I could get? I’ll have a read of your link now

We are seeing the vet again at 9am tomorrow morning and I’ll ask about rehydration treatment. I’m a bit upset they didn’t do much but at the same time I haven’t got a clue what they could have done
I think I would keep up the shallow luke/baby warm soaks - 50/50 water and baby's carrot food - Tesco sell pouches - to help rehydrate even if he's not drinking. Reptoboost in the soaking water may help too. The water should be below his head so that he's not at risk of drowning.
Don't try squirting anything in his mouth because if it goes into his lungs it could cause RI. Also make sure he is still warm but not directly under heat.
If you want to post pics of his usual enclosure and the lamps you use for basking, uvb and night heat with details of his temps then maybe we can help you work out what's happened.
Did the vet say anything about heat stress?
 

LadyCucumber

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I think I would keep up the shallow luke/baby warm soaks - 50/50 water and baby's carrot food - Tesco sell pouches - to help rehydrate even if he's not drinking. Reptoboost in the soaking water may help too. The water should be below his head so that he's not at risk of drowning.
Don't try squirting anything in his mouth because if it goes into his lungs it could cause RI. Also make sure he is still warm but not directly under heat.
If you want to post pics of his usual enclosure and the lamps you use for basking, uvb and night heat with details of his temps then maybe we can help you work out what's happened.
Did the vet say anything about heat stress?
thank you for your response. I bought some special electrolytes for tortoises, but I think he’s definitely died today :( my son is distraught.
The vet said absolutely nothing other than they have given him sugar water and to see what happens. I can’t help but feel let down by the vet to be honest. I feel that they didn’t really try to save him
 

wellington

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So very sorry. Unfortunately most vets have no clue about tortoises. Not sure if they could have done anything though. They should have been able to tell you if he was already gone at the very least.
 

TammyJ

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I am very sorry about your little tortoise. You did all you could. I know how awful it feels. Give it time and then try again.
 

Lyn W

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thank you for your response. I bought some special electrolytes for tortoises, but I think he’s definitely died today :( my son is distraught.
The vet said absolutely nothing other than they have given him sugar water and to see what happens. I can’t help but feel let down by the vet to be honest. I feel that they didn’t really try to save him
So very sorry :(
Most vets just guess or give vitamins as a 'cure all' when they can do more harm than good. Specialist tortoise vets are harder to find and even then there's no guarantee they get it right.
When and if your son is ready to give another tort a home please stay with us and learn as much as possible from members here - they really are lifesavers and have helped all of us keep torts happy and healthy.
Best wishes to you and your son.
 

LadyCucumber

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Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your responses.
I suggested another tortoise but he cried and said never. Definitely too soon. He was very careful and he had asked and researched for him for 4 years before I finally brought home albert for him on his birthday. So I’m very sure he did everything he could but he’s blaming himself! I’m not sure what I can say. It’s so incredibly sad
 

OliveW

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Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your responses.
I suggested another tortoise but he cried and said never. Definitely too soon. He was very careful and he had asked and researched for him for 4 years before I finally brought home albert for him on his birthday. So I’m very sure he did everything he could but he’s blaming himself! I’m not sure what I can say. It’s so incredibly sad

I'm so sorry. I feel so heartbroken for you son and you.

Unfortunately, I haven't read on here of a vet doing anything for a tortoise that can't be done at home. Your experience is common. I know there are exotic and reptile vets, but I'm not sure how much can really be done once something goes south with a tortoise.

I feel like at least a few times a week, there is someone posting that their tortoise may or may not have died, and the reason is almost always a mystery.
 

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